The healthcare design and construction picture has been muddied by uncertainty over the new healthcare law. Hospital systems are in a bind, not knowing what levels of reimbursement to expect. Building Teams serving this sector will have to work even harder to meet growing client demands.

March 01, 2012

5. Use prefabrication to trim construction costs, shorten schedule

A unitized curtain wall being fabricated at a remote site for Lakeway (Texas) Medical Center. Hoar Construction used these prefabricated systems, along with prefab overhead piping and ductwork, to lower costs and speed delivery of the project, which came in two months ahead of schedule.

Building Teams are using factory-based prefabrication to save time and money—and improve quality of workmanship—in hospital projects, especially in cases where repetitive design elements come into play.

For the Lakeway (Texas) Medical Center, Hoar Construction used prefabricated elements—a unitized curtain wall on the east end of the building, and overhead piping and ductwork—that were manufactured offsite in a controlled environment. The process helped shave two months off the construction schedule. “That’s two more months for the hospital to make revenue,” says Michael Booth, Hoar senior project manager.

The unitized glass curtain wall was tested for leaks before it left the factory, saving time and headaches on the job site. “You don’t have to deal with the elements and worry that you have the right caulk to create a good seal in the joints,” says Booth.

Precast concrete fabricated offsite saved time and money on the new Methodist Women’s Hospital and Medical Office Building in Omaha. HDR Architecture, Inc., used thin-brick-embedded precast concrete construction to simulate a brick-and-limestone façade. The 116-bed facility and a companion medical office building are highly visible to the neighboring upscale suburban community, so aesthetics were important to the client—but so was saving money.

Using the thin-brick precast system trimmed the amount of raw material required from 999 tons to 178, according to the fabricator, Endicott Clay Products, Fairbury, Neb. Of course, that also saved on delivery costs. For this strategy to work, however, the prefabricator has to be located within reasonable shipping distance from the construction site, warns Brian Halsey, AIA, LEED BD+C, an associate vice president with HDR. “You also need a crane for installation, so ideally you want to be able to get one located fairly close by,” he adds.

As Building Teams become more familiar with prefab options, manufactured systems will continue to find their way into healthcare projects.


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